COLUMBIA – In the aftermath of the season-ending Class 3 state track and field championships on Saturday afternoon, there was a definite bittersweet feeling surrounding the Reeds Spring High School girls’ team.
The Lady Wolves are flush with young talent, and figure to make future postseason trips and compile memorable experiences in the next couple of years.
But all that will come without senior Shelby Strailey, who ended her high school career by competing in three events at the state meet.
“It went well, but it was tough being the last time for all of us together,” said junior Izzy Erickson, who ran with Strailey as part of two state-placing relay teams. “It was crazy how much we’ve accomplished together, and how well we were able to work as a team.
“It will be very different. I don’t think we can ever really mimic Shelby, because of how much we bonded together. Having one girl leaving is the toughest part.”
Strailey won three medals on Saturday, led by the 4x200 and 4x100 relay teams.
The 4x200 team of Strailey, Erickson, Paige Rantz and Ashley Nolan finished sixth, posting a school-record time of 1:46.54.
The 4x100 relay of Rantz, Erickson, Nolan and Strailey broke the 50-second mark, taking fifth place in 49.96 seconds. It was the second year in a row the relay finished fifth at state.
“Today was bittersweet … I don’t want to cry, but this was our last time running together,” Rantz said. “It was really fun.
“We got our time down another second (in the 4x200), which we are so happy with. I think our season couldn’t have gone better than it did for us.”
Just a sophomore, Nolan has two years full of state-meet experience, and she will be looking forward to building that on her final two years at Reeds Spring.
While calling it bittersweet to see the relay foursome that includes Strailey come to an end, Nolan is appreciative of the experience.
“I’m going to miss Shelby next year, and I’m sad it was our last race,” Nolan said.
“I’m sure it would have been better if we placed higher, but it was a good feeling to place where we did.’
Strailey also finished seventh in the 200-meter finals, with a time of 25.95 seconds. She was eighth in the prelims, making the finals with a 25.84-second showing.
It was the culmination of a short – but rewarding – career for Strailey. She began her track and field journey as a junior, making state in multiple events in both her junior and senior seasons.
It figures to pay off for her in the future, too, as Strailey will continue her career by running track at Missouri Baptist.
She took a minute to reflect on the impact the sport – and outgoing Reeds Spring coach Craig Barr – has had on her development as an athlete and a person.
“It has taught me so much, with leadership and taking everything for what it is, it was such a big learning experience,” Strailey said.
“With Barr, I couldn’t have asked for a better coach. He’s the best, and he was really like a father to me. It’s going to be really sad to see him go for next year. I know we all are sad to see him go. I know I can come back and go to him if I ever need anything, so it’s good to have that.”
Erickson also competed at state in two individual events, finishing 10th in the 300 hurdles, with a time of 47.80 seconds; and placing 14th in the prelims in the 200 meters, finishing in 26.87 seconds.
The Reeds Spring boys were represented at the Class 3 state meet by junior Sean Gross, who turned in a time of 2:03.86 in the 800 meters, good for ninth place overall.